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Sampurno and MediaWorks TV Ltd - 2014-148

Members

  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Te Raumawhitu Kupenga

Complainant

  • Bayu Sampurno

Dated

4th March 2015

Number

2014-148

Programme

3 News

Channel/Station

TV3

Broadcaster

MediaWorks TV Ltd

Summary 

[This summary does not form part of the decision.] 

An item on 3 News reported details of John Key’s meeting with the Indonesian president. The newsreader discussed terrorism in Indonesia and referred to Indonesia as ‘the biggest Muslim country in the world’. The Authority did not uphold a complaint that this statement was inaccurate, finding that viewers would have understood the intended meaning that the majority of Indonesians are followers of Muslim faith. The Authority also declined to uphold the complaint that the discussion of terrorism in Indonesia denigrated Muslims and/or Indonesians, as it was factual and did not carry any invective.
 
Not Upheld: Accuracy, Discrimination and Denigration


Introduction 

[1]  An item on 3 News reported details of John Key’s meeting with the Indonesian president. The item discussed the possibility that Islamic State could recruit members from Indonesia and the implications of this, and it also referred to the Bali bombings. The newsreader made reference to Indonesia as ‘the biggest Muslim country in the world’. 

[2]  Bayu Sampurno complained that this statement was inaccurate because Indonesia is a multi-faith country, and that the discussion of terrorism denigrated Indonesians and/or Muslims. 

[3]  The issue is whether the broadcast breached the accuracy and discrimination and denigration standards as set out in the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice.  

[4]  The item was broadcast during the 6pm news on TV3 on Thursday 13 November 2014. The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. 

Was the broadcast inaccurate or misleading?

[5]  The accuracy standard (Standard 5) states that broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming is accurate in relation to all material points of fact, and does not mislead. The objective of this standard is to protect audiences from receiving misinformation and thereby being misled.

[6]  Mr Sampurno complained that the presenter’s description of Indonesia as ‘the biggest Muslim country in the world’ was inaccurate, as the majority of Indonesia’s population is Muslim but ‘all religions get along fine’.  

[7]  MediaWorks conceded that this description was ‘sloppy journalism’ and said it had taken action to ensure it was not used again. Nevertheless, it maintained that the statement was not inaccurate as ‘it did not alter or mislead the public about the discussion between the two leaders’, which was the focus of the item. 

[8] This Authority has previously declined to uphold a complaint that the description of Turkey as a ‘Muslim country’ was inaccurate. The Authority found that ‘Viewers would have understood the… intended meaning – that the majority of Turkish citizens are followers of the Muslim faith…’ It said ‘describing the country in this manner [did] not amount to a statement of fact that Turkey’s government is non-secular’. 

[9]  We consider the same reasoning applies in this case. Viewers would have understood the intended meaning of the statement – that the majority of Indonesia’s citizens are followers of the Muslim faith. Although a description of Indonesia as a country ‘with the biggest Muslim population in the world’, or similar, would have been technically more accurate, viewers were unlikely to have formed a wrong impression of Indonesia or of the religions of its population as a result of the brief comment in the item’s introduction. In any event, the presenter’s statement was not material to the focus of the item, which was John Key’s meeting with the Indonesian president.  

[10]  For these reasons, we decline to uphold the accuracy complaint. 

Did the broadcast encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, Indonesians and/or Muslims as sections of the community?

[11]  The discrimination and denigration standard (Standard 7) protects against broadcasts which encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status, or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.

[12]  The term ‘denigration’ has consistently been defined by the Authority as blackening the reputation of a class of people.3  ‘Discrimination’ has been consistently defined as encouraging the different treatment of the members of a particular group, to their detriment.4  It is also well-established that in light of the requirements of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, a high level of invective is necessary for the Authority to conclude that a broadcast encourages denigration or discrimination in contravention of the standard.5  

[13]  Mr Sampurno complained that the discussion of terrorism in the broadcast denigrated Indonesians and/or Muslims as the specific events referred to, for example the Bali bombings, occurred ‘under a different era and circumstances’. 

[14]  MediaWorks said the item did not contain anything which denigrated Indonesians and/or Muslims, as apart from the concession that the presenter’s description of Indonesia was ‘sloppy journalism’, ‘the story remained factual in all other aspects’.  

[15]  Guideline 7a states that this standard is not intended to prevent the broadcast of material that is factual. The discussion during the item of the Bali bombings and the possibility of Islamic State recruiting in Indonesia was factual and based on justifiable concerns. The item did not carry any invective or derogatory comments about Indonesians or Muslims.  

[16]  Accordingly, we are satisfied that the item did not encourage the denigration of, or discrimination against, either Indonesians or Muslims as sections of the community, and we decline to uphold this part of the complaint.
 
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
 
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
 
 
 
 
Peter Radich
Chair
4 March 2015
 
 

Appendix

The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
 
1     Bayu Sampurno’s formal complaint – 14 November 2014
2     MediaWorks’ response to the complaint – 27 November 2014
3     Mr Sampurno’s referral to the Authority – 27 November 2014
4     MediaWorks’ response to the Authority – 15 January 2015
 
 

1 Bush and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2010-036

2 Kavvas and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2005-135
 

3 See, for example, Mental Health Commission and CanWest RadioWorks, Decision No. 2006-0304 For example, Teoh and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2008-091

5 E.g. McCartain and Angus and The Radio Network, Decision No. 2002-152